As the Pittsburgh Penguins prepare to face the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, coach Mike Sullivan has a lot to figure out. From line battles to projections, let’s have a look.
Due to some unfortunate injuries, Sully and Co will have some battles already figured out before the playoff matches take place. The Pittsburgh Penguins have been challenged with injuries all season, and nothing changes moving forward, except for the possible return of Jake Guentzel to the starting rotation.
The majority of the battles weren’t going to take place until the 3rd line anyway, but with Nick Bjugstad and Dom Simon out, that pretty much means Jared McCann will take the center slot moving forward. As a part of the NHL’s answer to the playoffs resuming, each team can expand rosters up to 28 players. The topic then turns more to call-up battles over line battles.
Some potential call-ups could be Evan Rodrigues, as he will undoubtedly be trying to climb the forward’s ladder as well as the young and impressive Samuel Poulin. Poulin adds some flair to the roster and could be an easy decision to add, or at least be slated as the first man up if anything happens.
Projecting the Pittsburgh Penguins lines vs. the Montreal Canadiens
As far as defensive battles go, there aren’t any. Chad Ruhwedel and Juuso Riikola will most likely be the next men up as they will sit comfortably in the 7th and 8th defensive slots. Netminders, well, we all know that battle. Experience over youth will be the mantra for the entire playoffs, but we predict that for game 1 of series 1, Matt Murray will get the nod.
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Pittsburgh Penguins Projected Offensive Lines:
Guentzel – Crosby – Sheary (Sid gets his left and right-hand men back)
Zucker – Malkin – Rust (You can’t break up the Geno/Rust combo)
Marleau – McCann – Hornqvist (Experience and youth collide)
Tanev – Blueger – Aston-Reese (The Pens version of the cone-head line)
Pittsburgh Penguins Projected Defensive Lines:
Dumoulin – Letang
Pettersson – Marino
Johnson – Schultz
The defense and offense will look somewhat, if not wholly similar going forward into the playoffs—a few tweaks here and there, but somehow the same. However, we all know Coach Sullivan has a mastermind mentality, so your guess is as good as ours for what might happen in a few months.